Leon Washington Opening Eyes in Jets’ Backfield


New Jets coach Rex Ryan likes how running back Leon Washington is playing this preseason.

“He’s even better than I thought,” Ryan told newyorkjets.com after Washington rushed for 48 yards on eight carries in the Jets’ 24-23 loss to the Ravens on Monday night. “This guy is — whoo! — he’s a little stud. I knew he was tough, but that defense, that doesn’t happen to them. I don’t care, preseason, regular season. He’s special.”

Washington also had two receptions for 35 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass from Mark Sanchez, the rookie’s first pro touchdown toss.

“Leon went on a little wheel route, and the defensive lineman ran with him, and he was running with his back to me so he couldn’t see the throw,” Sanchez told the team’s Web site. “So I just put it up and gave Leon a chance, and he made a great play just sticking with the ball and sticking inside the linebacker to make a great catch. So it was perfect. It was the first read that we had, and it worked out well.”

Washington, who led the NFL in combined net yards last season, finished the game with 181 yards on rushing, receiving, and returns — tying Jesse Chatman’s total last season against the Eagles for the Jet’s most all-purpose yardage in the past 20 preseasons.

Having Washington perform at a high level bodes well for New York’s offense and should help take some pressure off Sanchez, who will be behind center in Week 1.

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